One of the ways we celebrate birthdays in our family is by letting the birthday boy or girl choose their favorite meal for dinner. Our only rule is: It can't consist of four courses of ice cream.
Problem is, my two middle children, Connor and Teyla, are somewhat picky eaters and prone to negativity. I honestly don't know what their favorite meals are because they never seem excited about anything I put on the table. Unless it's ice cream.
But there is one main course I stumbled across recently they both love. It's easy (4 ingredients) and fast (15 minutes from start to finish) and relatively healthy (omega fatty acids for the win). The only problem is, it's almost too everyday for me to serve at a birthday party.
"Let's get excited,kids, we're having FISH for dinner!"
But it's not all about me, so I made cornmeal-crusted tilapia for Teyla's birthday dinner last week, and she was ecstatic. (She used to call it chicken, which is an easy mistake to make, since tilapia is a mild fish that holds its shape. We let her believe it was chicken for about a year, because we were afraid the word "fish" would transform the food into her mouth into "yuck," even if she liked it five seconds before. She knows it's fish now, but you know. You do what you need to do, and no judgement from me.)
Don't wait for a party to make this.
CORNMEAL CRUSTED TILAPIA
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound tilapia fillets
1. Warm olive oil in a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
2. Combine cornmeal and Old Bay Seasoning in a shallow pan.
3. Coat tilapia fillets in cornmeal mixture and fry in pan, turning once, about 3-5 minutes per side, until golden and fish is flaky.
1. I use an old pie pan for mixing the cornmeal and seasonings and then coating the fish.
2. Sometimes, I cut the fillets in two pieces, so the thin side doesn't overcook while the thick half is still sizzling away. Bonus: Cutting the fillets in half make them more child-sized.
3. I serve this with my semi-homemade macaroni and cheese and a green salad or vegetable. Apples or grapes are a great fruit addition.